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I came across the clutter test offered by websitecriteria.com while doing some research on guidelines about content readability and presentation of information on a web page.

It makes reference to an algorithm that is used to calculate the relative clutter on a web page, and considering that Google Home page has a 16% rating and that Yahoo has a 86% rating, how useful and accurate do you think this test is, and what are the main elements involved in assessing the clutter on a page? Can it be as simple as a formula, or does it require more contextual information and an understanding of the specific audience for it to be a fair assessment?

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There are two interesting papers from http://www.labinthewild.org/ that address this. They are more nuanced than just "clutter" but they seem to relate.

Quantifying Visual Preferences Around the World

http://reinecke.people.si.umich.edu/Publications_files/ReineckeCHI2014.pdf?bcsi_scan_edf0484211d699cd=0&bcsi_scan_filename=ReineckeCHI2014.pdf

Website aesthetics have been recognized as an influential moderator of people’s behavior and perception. However, what users perceive as “good design” is subject to individual preferences, questioning the feasibility of universal design guidelines. To better understand how people’s visual preferences differ, we collected 2.4 million ratings of the visual appeal of websites from nearly 40 thousand participants of diverse backgrounds. We address several gaps in the knowledge about design preferences of previously understudied groups. Among other findings, our results show that the level of colorfulness and visual complexity at which visual appeal is highest strongly varies: Females, for example, liked colorful websites more than males. A high education level generally lowers this preference for colorfulness. Russians preferred a lower visual complexity, and Macedonians liked highly colorful designs more than any other country in our dataset. We contribute a computational model and estimates of peak appeal that can be used to support rapid evaluations of website design prototypes for specific target groups.

Predicting Users’ First Impressions of Website Aesthetics With a Quantification of Perceived Visual Complexity and Colorfulness

http://people.seas.harvard.edu/~reinecke/Publications_files/Reinecke_CHI2013.pdf

Users make lasting judgments about a website’s appeal within a split second of seeing it for the first time. This first impression is influential enough to later affect their opinions of a site’s usability and trustworthiness. In this paper, we demonstrate a means to predict the initial impression of aesthetics based on perceptual models of a website’s colorfulness and visual complexity. In an online study, we collected ratings of colorfulness, visual complexity, and visual appeal of a set of 450 websites from 548 volunteers. Based on these data, we developed computational models that accurately measure the perceived visual complexity and colorfulness of website screenshots. In combination with demographic variables such as a user’s education level and age, these models explain approximately half of the variance in the ratings of aesthetic appeal given after viewing a website for 500ms only.

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Never trust a machine! That's why UX matters. It's not working in all themes, subjects, fields and contexts.

Not all users are acting the same. Most of the users don't look into a website generally. They always follow up a specific pattern.

For example, every time I open yahoo.com, I just look at the right side looking for sign-in button. That's because I just using my Yahoo email and nothing else. So Yahoo website isn't so much cluttered for me because I don't look at other parts.

This approach is just a general estimation. However, it doesn't mean to leave websites cluttered, you can't rely on them.

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